planning a family trip to paris

It’s official… we are going to Paris!  Granted it is still more than a year down the road, but…

our paris rental

We have already reserved the lovely apartment pictured above for eight days!!!  And purchased insurance for the trip.  Why wait so long to go?  Because booking a trip way in advance also allows you to pay for the trip way in advance.  And spread over time, the cost is bearable.

This will be our first time traveling abroad so I have been scouring Amazon, my local library, and Internet for resources.  I thought I would share the process here for others to stumble upon when pondering or planning their own family trip.  Here is a list to help you get started:

1.  Where to Stay.  Knowing that hotel rooms in Paris tend to be very small, we opted for an apartment.  Another determining factor for us were the food markets – being able to shop and cook from our home base.  (A laundry machine doesn’t hurt, either!)  A few reputable rental resources include:  VRBO, HomeAway, and FlipKey.  The websites all share key tips in booking your trip safely; I recommend reading up before putting any money down.  We found a few apartments that we liked and then narrowed down the search by neighborhood.

2.  Travel Insurance.  Booking a vacation is an investment so it only makes sense to protect that investment.  Too, your medical coverage is likely limited to the United States (assuming you are from the U.S.) so if something happens while you are traveling YOU would be picking up the tab.  [The trip is expensive enough without that worry!]  We used InsureMy Trip to find a plan that would cover both medical and unexpected trip interruption/cancellation needs.  After calculating the cost of the trip, we purchased insurance before putting money down on our rental.  (FYI:  The cost of travel insurance is cheapest the earlier in the booking process you purchase it.)

3.  Getting Around Paris.  The one really good thing about traveling to Paris is the fact that you don’t need a car.  In fact, it is greatly discouraged!  The city itself is broken down into into 20 arrondisements (i.e districts) that are easy to travel between by metro, bus, or RER (express train).  The most challenging part will be transporation to and from the airport with all of the luggage; the easiest solution might simply be booking a SuperShuttle in advance as well.

4.   Learning More About Paris.  There are several great resources available, my favorites include:  Jordan from Oh Happy Day lived in Paris for a year and documented the whole thing on her blog HERE, while I have yet to read Rick Steves’ Paris 2013 it comes highly recommended by my sister-in-law, Fodor’s Paris 2013, Frommer’s Paris 2013, and Markets of Paris (2nd Edition).  We are using all of these resources to put together a list of places to see, things to do, and food to sample.

5.  Learning French.  Even though our high school son has several years of French already under his belt, I thought it important to start working on my own vocabulary list.  I have been using the app Duolingo for over a week now and see a noticeable difference in my understanding of the language.  [You might remember me mentioning it in THIS 5 Fun Things Friday post.  The family board game “KLOO” was also shared in the same post, suitable for ages 8 and up.]

If you have traveled to Paris, I would love to hear your recommendations and travel planning tips you have to offer as well!

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